Assessment at Fresno State

Every department at Fresno State is required to carry out assessment on an annual basis. Each department should designate one faculty member as their assessment coordinator and this person will be responsible for overseeing both major and GE assessment unless the department decides to have a separate GE assessment coordinator. If the designated faculty assessment coordinator retires or is on sabbatical, then the chair will be responsible for overseeing all assessment activities. Every department on campus currently has a Student Outcomes Assessment Plan or SOAP that they created and this document should be reviewed and updated as necessary (see definition of SOAP below). Whenever the department updates any aspect of the SOAP whether it be the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO's), measures (assignments used to measure outcomes) or the time-line with what assessment measures will be used in which years the new document should be sent to OIE so the updated version can be posted on the website. Every department must assess a minimum of one student learning outcome each year and the department should conduct assessment consistent with their current plan (the SOAP) or update their SOAP to reflect the assessment that they will be conducting. Every department must submit a major assessment report each year that describes their activities and more information on the report can be found in the section on assessment reporting and information on G.E. assessment can also be found in this section of the website.

Lexicon of Key Assessment Terms


Student Outcomes Assessment Plan. Essentially every department must create a plan with seven required elements. One of thee d most important parts of this plan are the goals and student learning outcomes or what every student is expected to do know and be able to do when they complete their major program. There is no minimum or maximum number of student learning outcomes (SLO's) but departments must measure all of their stated outcomes in a five year cycle. The other most important part of the plan is the measures or what assignments/surveys/etc. departments will use to determine whether or not students are meeting the outcomes. It is important that the outcomes and measures are aligned, in other words the measure or assignment must be able to determine if students are meeting the outcome it is being used to measure. The SOAP also includes a curriculum map showing where students are getting instruction related to each outcomes and a map showing what measures evaluate which outcomes as well as a time-line showing which outcomes are evaluated each year and keep in mind that all outcomes should be measured in a five year cycle. The last section of the report is the Closing the Loop section and this does not have to be updated to reflect the activities each specific year but instead should describe how department's communicate and use assessment information to improve student learning.

Student Learning Outcome


Student Learning Outcomes are statements that describe significant and essential learning that learners have achieved, and can reliably demonstrate at the end of a course or program. In other words, learning outcomes identify what the learner will know and be able to do by the end of a course or program. Students Learning Outcomes or SLO's must:


  • reflect essential knowledge, skills or attitudes;
  • focus on results of the learning experiences;
  • reflect the desired end of the learning experience, not the means or the process;
  • represent the minimum performances that must be achieved to successfully complete a course or program

The SLO's must be stated clearly and the description should use the appropriate verb depending on the level of the skill being demonstrated. Basic knowledge can be demonstrated by explaining or describing while an ability to make deductions can be demonstrated by analyzing a point or idea. Bloom's Taxonomy provides specific information on lower and higher order skills and the appropriate terms.

Major Assessment Report

Initially information on assessment was included in the annual report that was and is still due in May. However, assessment activities are now described in a separate major assessment report that is due September 1st. There is now a template that should be used for this report and it can be found in the assessment reporting section of this website.

Course Assessment

Assessment techniques are brought to bear on the stated learning outcomes of a given course. Assessment evidence may be collected during the semester within the course or at some time after the conclusion of the course. Assessment data gathered during the course reflects student progress in achieving stated course outcomes, while data gathered after the conclusion of the course provides evidence of the persistence of stated learning outcomes over the time elapsed.

Curriculum Map

Presented in a matrix, a curriculum map relates program-level student learning outcomes (usually enumerated in individual rows) to the courses and/or experiences that students take in progress to graduation (usually captured in columns).

Direct Measures of Student Learning

In contrast to opinion surveys and instruments that gather self-reports of student knowledge and/or ability, direct measures of student learning are generated when students are evaluated in their performance of a stated outcome. Assessment techniques implemented can range from scoring rubrics to locally generated or nationally normed examinations of student performance. Third-party reports of what students know and can do represent direct measures of student learning when the reports are student-specific rather than summarized across a cohort of students.

Embedded Assessment

Also referred to as course-embedded assessment, these techniques generate assessments of course-specific student learning outcomes entirely within the duration of the specific course. There are many assessment techniques that can be applied to routine assignments made within a course that can be summarized across multiple sections and/or multiple semesters to provide evidence of student learning at the program level.

Formative Assessment

Utilizes assessment techniques that emphasize the role of feedback in assessing how students are learning and then using the information to make beneficial changes in instruction and/or the learning environment. Formative assessment usually focuses on a limited set of specific outcomes, often a subset of the complete roster of outcomes identified by a program, and is focused primarily on the improvement of program delivery.

Indirect Measures of Student Learning

Usually found in opinion surveys and instruments that gather self-reports of student knowledge, indirect measures of student learning are generated when students report on their own progress of learning, what experiences they attribute their learning to, how they feel about what they know, and what students value as a result of their educational experiences. Third-party reports of what students know and can do represent indirect measures of student learning when the reports are summarized across a cohort of students rather than student-specific .

Program Assessment

Assessments of student learning and development of program goals and outcomes provide program faculty opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness and status of their academic program at the same time they reflect vital information to use in improving curriculum and instruction. Program assessment is comprehensive across a set of prioritized program outcomes in contrast to course assessment that is limited to course-specific outcomes.

Summative Assessment

Utilizes assessment techniques that emphasize the comprehensive achievement of program outcomes across comparatively large student cohorts. While summative and formative assessment need not be mutually exclusive, the tenor of summative assessment is to provide evidence of accountability and achievement of comprehensive program outcomes compared to formative assessment, which focuses feedback to improve program delivery.